K. A. Laity is an award-winning author whose work encompasses a wide range of styles. She’s also been involved in some fine recent alterative Noir anthologies with Fox Spirit. She has a new book out, White Rabbit. Kate met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about her new release and the anthology Drag Noir.
Tell us about White Rabbit and that Jefferson Airplane song.
I suppose it might have been in the back of my mind somewhere, but it wasn’t really at the front of my head at all. Alice was of course, but then Wonderland is always bouncing around in my head. Things collide up there in unpredictable ways. The first glimmer was writing down the phrase “luminiferous ether” while I was at a performance & talk in Hackney by Sarah Angliss of Spacedog. At the time I was more excited by getting the chance to play her theremin, but the phrase echoed in my brain and somehow caused a collision between memories of ‘Séance on a Wet Afternoon’ and ‘Blue Sunshine’ and led to a down-at-the-heel ex-detective who masqueraded as a psychic. I heard Draygo’s voice and the rest spun itself out of that.
How does it differ to your other works?
I’m not sure I have the distance to really see that aspect. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten more into crime writing I have written a lot more male protagonists. I always start from the character’s voice or voices, so it seems different in that regard. I’m usually knocking together more genres than is sensible, so it’s the same in that regard, though this is perhaps the first really supernatural noir I’ve done. Most of my noir stories are straight ahead mimetic fiction, though with drugs thrown in surreal and supernatural can be difficult to differentiate. I had a couple of stories inspired by the line about “mandrake anthrax” from The Fall song ‘Tempo House’ that will be in Graham Wynd’s Extricate/Throw the Bones collection. They take surreal twists that you can’t be sure are really happening because the main character has ingested ‘certain substances’ as they say.
What else is on the cards for you this year?
My Chastity Flame novels will be coming out in new print editions in August, when I’ve also got my zombie western novella High Plains Lazarus coming out as an ebook. I’m writing a fairy tale novel for Fox Spirit Books and the latest noir anthology I’ve edited, Drag Noir, will be out this summer and features luminaries like your own fine self. Did I already mention my alter ego’s two-fer of noir novellas? I’m so fortunate in my cover artists: it’s going to be hard to top the elegance of a White Rabbit and the pizazz of Extricate/Throw the Bones.
Tell us about the new anthology Drag Noir.
Drag Noir is the third in the series of Noir anthologies I’ve edited for Fox Spirit. It all started with me foolishly wondering aloud what a mashup of weird fiction with noir aesthetics might look like and Adele Wearing telling me she’d be interested in publishing it if I put it together. Weird Noir was followed by Noir Carnival, both with spectacular cover art by SL Johnson. Drag Noir was my flippant answer to what might be next, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Noir is so much about ambience and masks, people putting on a front, trying to pass notice. Drag seemed a natural connection. Honestly I had no idea what I would get for stories, but as with the first two I was surprised and delighted by the results.
Thank you Kate for a perceptive and concise interview.